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The Blackest BLACK ever Created

 
Invisibility
User ID: 371959
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02/20/2008 02:11 PM
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The Blackest BLACK ever Created
Their Deepest, Darkest Discovery
Scientists Create a Black That Erases Virtually All Light

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2008; A01

Black is getting blacker.

Researchers in New York reported this month that they have created a paper-thin material that absorbs 99.955 percent of the light that hits it, making it by far the darkest substance ever made -- about 30 times as dark as the government's current standard for blackest black.

The material, made of hollow fibers, is a Roach Motel for photons -- light checks in, but it never checks out. By voraciously sucking up all surrounding illumination, it can give those who gaze on it a dizzying sensation of nothingness.

"It's very deep, like in a forest on the darkest night," said Shawn-Yu Lin, a scientist who helped create the material at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. "Nothing comes back to you. It's very, very, very dark."

But scientists are not satisfied. Using other new materials, some are trying to manufacture rudimentary Harry Potter-like cloaks that make objects inside of them literally invisible under the right conditions -- the pinnacle of stealthy technology.

Both advances reflect researchers' growing ability to manipulate light, the fleetest and most evanescent of nature's offerings. The nascent invisibility cloak now being tested, for example, is made of a material that bends light rays "backward," a weird phenomenon thought to be impossible just a few years ago.

Known as transformation optics, the phenomenon compels some wavelengths of light to flow around an object like water around a stone. As a result, things behind the object become visible while the object itself disappears from view.

"Cloaking is just the tip of the iceberg," said Vladimir Shalaev, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University and an expert in the fledgling field. "With transformation optics you can do many other tricks," perhaps including making things appear to be located where they are not and focusing massive amounts of energy on microscopic spots.

U.S. military and intelligence agencies have funded the cloaking research "for obvious reasons," said David Schurig, a physicist and electrical engineer at North Carolina State University who recently designed and helped test a cloaking device. In that experiment, a shielded object a little smaller than a hockey puck was made invisible to a detector that uses microwaves to "see."

The first working cloaks will be limited that way, he said -- able to steer just a limited part of the light spectrum around objects -- and it could be years before scientists make cloaks that work for all wavelengths, including the visible spectrum used by the human eye.

But even cloaks that work on just a few key wavelengths could offer huge benefits, making objects invisible to laser beams used for weapons targeting, for example, or rendering an enemy's night goggles useless because objects would be invisible to the infrared rays those devices use.

The Defense Department did not fund development of the new blacker-than-black material, created by Lin and his colleagues. But military officials were among the first to call after a description of the work appeared in this month's issue of the journal Nano Letters, Lin said in an interview.

Substances that absorb every smidgeon of incoming visible light could complement existing stealth coatings that absorb radar waves, Lin said. He and others emphasized, however, that there are also peaceful and more immediate applications for the blackest stuff on Earth.

Solar panels coated with it would be much more efficient than those coated with conventional black paint, which reflects 5 percent or more of incoming light. Telescopes lined with it would sop up random flecks of incidental light, providing a blacker background to detect faint stars.

And a wide array of heat detectors and energy-measuring devices, including climate-tracking equipment on satellites, would become far more accurate than they are today if they were coated with energy-grabbing superblack.

That helps explain why Lin has been fielding queries from solar-energy companies such as SolFocus of Mountain View, Calif., and the European Space Agency.

"The more black the material the better," said Gerald Fraser, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal agency that specializes in fine measurements and industrial standards.

That agency offers scientists a chemical mix it calls "standard black," which for years has been the defining measure of blackness. Photographers and printers use it to calibrate their gray scales. Industrial radiologists use it to calibrate X-ray imaging systems that detect radiation or hidden defects in building materials.



[link to www.washingtonpost.com]
(you've got to register to see the article, but it's free)

Last Edited by Dr. Acula on 05/06/2013 04:11 AM
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 356676
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02/20/2008 02:13 PM
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Re: The Blackest BLACK ever Created
why would i register, i just read it here for free.
UnwanteDreams

User ID: 224913
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02/20/2008 02:14 PM
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Re: The Blackest BLACK ever Created
I want to see this black.
"You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.

“The war we fight today is more than a military conflict,” Mr Bush said. “It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.”


You are a slave..., like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind."
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 371959
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02/20/2008 02:15 PM
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Re: The Blackest BLACK ever Created
Some people WILL complain about the link not working. Just nipping that in the bud. But, obviously, my ploy didn't work because YOU complained about my little warning. Sometimes you just can't win.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 356676
United States
02/20/2008 02:16 PM
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Re: The Blackest BLACK ever Created
heres a really crappy photo

[link to www.sciencenewsblog.com]
UnwanteDreams

User ID: 224913
United States
02/20/2008 02:18 PM
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Re: The Blackest BLACK ever Created
heres a really crappy photo

[link to www.sciencenewsblog.com]
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 356676

cool thx
"You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.

“The war we fight today is more than a military conflict,” Mr Bush said. “It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.”


You are a slave..., like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind."
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 371959
United States
02/20/2008 02:19 PM
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Re: The Blackest BLACK ever Created
I want to see this black.
 Quoting: UnwanteDreams

shocked
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 356676
United States
02/20/2008 02:19 PM
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Re: The Blackest BLACK ever Created
it looks like its just super shiny black...i guess you'd have to be there to get the full effect

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